Signs and Symptoms
Angina is chest pain caused by coronary heart disease, a partial
blockage of the coronary arteries. If you have angina, your heart
may not get enough blood, especially when you exercise or are under
stress. If you have chest pain when you are resting, or the pain
doesn't go away after a few minutes, call 911 or your local emergency
number. You may be having a heart attack.
Coronary heart disease is the root cause of angina. Some risk factors for developing angina are older age, male sex, menopause, family history of angina, diabetes, smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, and stress.
You will have an electrocardiogram (EKG), during which electrodes will be fastened to your chest with a sticky gel. Your health care provider may also suggest a stress test, in which the EKG is taken while you walk on a treadmill or use a stationary bicycle. Your health care provider may recommend coronary arteriography, where a catheter is inserted through a small incision to inject a dye that makes your blood flow visible on an x-ray image. Any blockages in and around your heart will appear.
There are two main goals in treating angina. The first is to allow
you to perform moderate exercise without pain. The second is to
treat the underlying heart disease and prevent it from getting
Prescription Nitratesincrease the size of blood vessels,
thus allowing blood to flow more easily; also help beta-blockers
and calcium-channel blockers to work more effectively; tolerance
occurs with continued use
If drugs are ineffective, you may need surgery. There are many
different types of surgery to remove blockages from blood vessels
or widen blood vessels so blood flows more easily.
Specific herbs and nutrients can help treat angina.
The following supplements may help reduce symptoms of angina by
strengthening heart muscle, lowering cholesterol, supporting connective
tissue, and helping blood cells function normally.
L-carnitine (330 mg two to three times per day)
Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna), linden flowers (Tilia cordata), and motherwort (Leonorus cardiaca) may be used long-term as teas with a high degree of safety. The rest of the herbs listed here should be used under the supervision of a qualified practitioner because of toxic side effects.
A cardiac tonic that contains herbs to stimulate circulation and strengthen the cardiovascular system includes hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna), ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba), linden flowers (Tilia cordata), mistletoe (Viscum album), Indian tobacco (Lobelia inflata), and motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca). A tincture made from equal parts of these herbs should be taken in 20 drops three times a day.
For acute relief of symptoms use a tincture made from equal parts of the following herbs: yellow jasmine (Gelsemium sempervirens), Indian tobacco (Lobelia inflata), monkshood (Aconite napellus), night-blooming cereus (Selenicereus grandiflorus), and ginger (Zingiber officinale). Take 10 to 20 drops every 15 minutes when necessary, up to eight consecutive doses.
Hawthorn, linden, and motherwort are safe during pregnancy. Stronger herbs should not be used without provider supervision.
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Participants in the review process include: Richard A. Lippin, MD, President, The Lippin Group, Southampton, PA; Tom Wolfe, P.AHG, Smile Herb Shop, College Park, MD; Leonard Wisneski, MD, FACP, George Washington University, Rockville, MD